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It was winter of 2017 and we had just secured the commission for The Garten.
This was our first major project in Beirut. Four (4) months after we established Archave and three (3) months to opening day, the brief was to create an outdoor nightclub with a “pyramid” structure on a 3000 sqm bare land on the city’s waterfront.

Through our research and personal experience, we understood that a nightclub should always aim to create an alternative reality, a parallel world. Usually that is achieved through alienating the space from its context; Architecture is not used in tandem with its purpose. 
The Garten, an outdoor night Club in the center of Beirut, overlooking Lebanon’s sea and mountains had to respond to its relationship to the city, its environment and its users.
Nightclubs in Beirut are where everyone truly mixes, people from all around Lebanon and the world interact, enjoy the music, the show, their time with a high degree of freedom.
They sort of equalize everyone that get in. A bit like temples.
But they are fragile temples, responding to the erratic nature of Lebanon’s service industry (inherently linked to its political situation).
That framed the approach, a temple of music that could lift off at any moment.

While deployed it heavily anchors itself in the city’s ground but its 18 tons’ structure, the custom made acoustic panels, internal stages, and bars are designed to be dismantled and packed in forty (40) foot containers. It is a highly polyvalent space that transforms and adapts to its use.
The Garten is spread across three thousand (3000) square meters, punctuated by patches of tropical gardens and crowned by a Structure inspired by the Native American tent. An octagonal Pyramid that has an engulfing effect accentuated by the direction and positioning of all the steel beams; carefully chosen to create a heightened perspectival effect. Lined with 1000 m of linear LED’s it allows for a unique light show, a shape shifting geometry. What we call synchronized architecture, one that directly responds to its objective and built around it. A fully immersive experience that allows people to experience new sensations and states of mind.
The covered part acts as a giant screen to project onto and are also custom made noise barrier that totally isolate the city from the sound generated under here. (Avoiding serious lawsuits) We have designed 2 sound tunnels to work as sound mufflers while allowing access to and out of the club, Lynch inspired. No doors, a free flow around.  
It’s a public temple, not closed off, and yet dogmatic in its presence. It was very important for us to open it up and make it truly inclusive. It is the place of communion between the artist and his audience; a physical expression of a sound and light ritual.
Owned and operated by Uberhaus, the Garten has a three thousand (3000) people capacity and welcomes around 115,000 customers in the summer season each year, while hosting artists from all around the world.
Being music enthusiast ourselves, we hope to offer through this project a true alternative where the importance and experience of music is materialized in a living architectural monument, a temple, powerful in its symbolic, where people can feel, celebrate and unite around music. 

Design on this project started in early February 2017, operational since May 2017. 
 

Situated on the North Cost of Egypt, the Seacode is a polyvalent enterntainment space for the summer season. An inverted structure of a boat connecting the restaurant to the beach bar to the nightclub. It is a space where one can start the day at the beach, eat, drink then party. A race against time.

The project was started in May 2018, completed in July 2018.
 

Set on the rooftop of a five (5) story industrial building overlooking a military base and the impressive cranes in the port of Beirut, Nacthvesen is the second major nightclub in Lebanon we got the commission to do. Building on the methodology that drove our work on the Garten, here too the context is paramount. While the brief required us to use a pre-existing metallic structure, we had full design control over the nightclub. Set up as coliseum all with its arena, viewing deck and stages, the space ends with quite an experimental façade, 300 meters of welded metal with suspended glass panels, a window to an unknown place, that draws you in and out of focus.
It frames the port but also anchors you being in a space room. The new bars and Dj booth, contrast and bring to light both the retro and futuristic aspect of the space and inject a living aspect to it. In addition, perhaps not visible but surely at work is the organization of the plan to insure seamless circulation and service for customers and staff. The details have been thought of as to allow for better operations and a polyvalent space. Overall we are proposing an alternative approach, flexible yet anchored and coherent to its context.
Underground is fine, but we are going over ground here. Back to space. Not darker than night.

Situated on the 11th floor of a lively neighborhood, Apartment H is a young couple’s house that has a unique view on Beirut’s urban landscape. 
We had the opportunity to work closely with the main contractor who was still in the construction phase of the building enabling us to change the plan layout according to the client’s lifestyle. Here, we wanted to offer an adaptive layout while creating a clear separation between the public and private areas. 

Starting at the entrance, the public area includes the kitchen, dining room and living room organized in an open continuous space that adjusts to the inhabitants’ needs. In the initial layout there were walls between the kitchen and the living space. Inspired by the idea of Japanese shoji, rather than walls, translucent sliding doors separate the kitchen from the living space allowing each to have an independent atmosphere and its own privacy while driving natural light into the space. Providing visual continuity and hierarchy was made possible by the creation of two main cabinets: the first around a structural column assembling kitchenware and needed appliances and the second, going from the living room to the kitchen. A monolith that flows along the wall, subtly carrying multiple appliances and ending on a discrete door leading to the private section of the house.

While entering the door, the ground finish shifts from a colder white Carrara marble to a warmer Oak wood parquet. The master bedroom is configured for two people to coexist with minimal friction and a polyvalent space, separating the kids’ room from the latter and can evolve with time to accommodate the family’s needs in its different phases. There are no walls separating these spaces but rather sliding doors. These accentuate the adaptability of the space creating, overall, a simple yet flexible house to live in.
 

Julia’s was a refitting and relocation of a restaurant to the corner of Saint Nicolas’ stairs, connecting Sursock to Gemmayze.
The brief was about remodeling the existing to accommodate for both a French restaurant and a Tappas bar. Our intervention dealt with space strategy and organization. How do we provide a dual space that caters for both slow and fast visit customers? How do we work with an existing space and unfold its potential to accommodate the vision?
We started off by moving the Entrance to the corner of the building, allowing for better circulation, access and visibility. We then used the existing structural pillars at the center of the space to mediate between the Tapas bar and the restaurant. Cladded with mirrors, they inflate the room and diffuses light across it while also providing key service space for better flow and operations. The kitchen’s wall is knocked down and replaced with the tapas bar, that allows for much needed light to enter as well as the creation of various atmospheres within the same space. Finally, the banquettes made to order, were used to push most seating to the peripheral walls freeing up the room and maximizing seating spots. The Materials were used to code the space, and distinguish its different offerings.

The brief, rebuilding the entrance for an office building.
Hidden behind the road, and only accessible through a narrow pathway, the entrance direct relationship to the public realm is limited. It is only in conversation with it users but still needs to transpire an essence. Presented as a block of marble, the same used on the remainder of the building, morphed to the existing and then carved out, the entrance façade respects an existing language and creates a sense of belonging. It is porous and light yet grows from the ground up, reaching upwards.
The walls, and floors are the exposed part of the carved travertine block, compressed by the weight of the building above. The Floor plan has been condensed to its quintessence and allows for ideal access and circulation. This project was completed in February 2019.

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Architecture - Interior - Design

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Michael Najjar